February 7, 2018 / 4:44 AM / 6 months ago

Olympics-Alpine skiing-Cold weather turning skis to garbage in Pyeongchang

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Brutally cold conditions in Pyeongchang are warping skis and forcing some athletes to toss them out after training runs, an Alpine skiing course worker told Reuters on Wednesday.

"One of the coaches said they are throwing the skis out after today," Craig Randell, a start crew technician working on his third Olympics, said on a chilly morning at the Yongpyong Alpine Centre, where the slalom, giant slalom and team events will be held later this month.

"You can't do anything about it but with the cold temperatures, the snow adheres to the ski base and twists it."

"They are turning their skis to garbage real fast," he said.

Although discarding expensive skis over relatively minor flaws may seem extreme, Randell said it was a necessary evil for Olympians in pursuit of medals.

"When you are an athlete training to be the best in the world, every little millisecond, every little idiosyncrasy counts."

Temperatures in Pyeongchang were in the single digits Fahrenheit early Wednesday morning at the centre but that has not prevented top skiers from taking practice runs.

Defending slalom gold medalist American Mikaela Shiffrin was the first athlete Randell said he spotted training on the course earlier in the week.

The North Korean and South Korean teams were also among the first to barrel down the training course when it opened for training sessions, he said.

The Games open on Friday and run through Feb. 25. (Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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